How Office Work Can Kill You – Computers and Smartphones

Every hour spent sitting increases the risk of dying by heart disease as much as 18%… even if you exercise regularly.

westminster-colorado-chiropractic-vital-signs-infographicComputers and smartphones have revolutionized the way we work, but our health is suffering in insidious new ways. The tip from ergonomics experts is: don’t just sit there, do something.

If you are reading this article on a screen, chances are that your spine is slouched and your neck is protruding forward. If it’s a mobile device you are using, your turtle-neck posture will be even more pronounced.

With the advent of mobile devices and trends such as hot-desking and BYO devices, a workstation could be anything from a laptop to a tablet or smartphone perched on your lap, palm or pillow, on a bus or in bed. This is leading to increasingly contorted postures as we pretzel our bodies to peer into the screens of our gadgets.

Physiotherapists and ergonomists are now treating new conditions such as tech neck and email apnoea, as well as back pain and wrist pain. The scary thing is that the more time we spend online, our bodies go off-line — and vital signs of life diminish. We move less, blink less, even breathe less.


The risk of sedentary death syndrome (SeDS) has never been higher, with 75 per cent of a typical workday spent seated, according to recent estimates. The term SeDS was coined by medical researchers to wake us up to the fact that excessive sitting is a way to slowly kill yourself.


Specialists in breathing pattern disorders are seeing increases in email apnea. The term is a play on the serious condition sleep apnea, where sufferers stop breathing for very short periods, or shallow breathe while they sleep.

When one focuses intensely, such as when texting, typing hard or answering emails under pressure, they tend to inhale and hold their breath.  This unconscious reaction occurs many times a day, and if one adds stress and a slumped posture, a typical day’s work can become a high-risk activity for low-grade hyperventilation.


A new study found that when one lowers their head to look at a screen, it creates much more pressure on a neck than might otherwise be imagined.

When a head rests in a neutral position on shoulders, the pressure it creates is equal to the weight of the person’s head – which is usually about 11 pounds.   A 15-degree forward tilt of the head increases the weight on the cervical spine to nearly 27 pounds. At 30 degrees, the weight increases to 40 pounds, and at 60 degrees, 59 pounds! That’s like carrying a suitcase around on one’s neck for several hours each day.

People spend about three hours a day on their smartphone, often doing activities that require quite a lot of concentration, such as booking flights or responding to email.  Symptoms of tech neck include chronic pain in the neck, shoulders, upper back and upper arms, disc injury and associated nerve pain.



  • Move every 30 minutes by standing up, taking a short walk, doing some stretches, or at least changing your posture.
  • Increase how much you stand by standing up to take phone calls, standing in meetings or standing at the back of the room during long presentations.
  • Increase stepping by having walking meetings, taking the stairs or getting on and off public transport one stop early.


  • Practice breath awareness throughout the day.
  • Focus on the exhale first, which helps to relax your muscles. Lengthen the exhalation for a relaxation effect.
  • Breathe in and out of your nose.
  • Breathe into the lower chest and abdomen, rather than the upper chest.


  • Don’t forget to blink to keep your eyes moist!
  • Take a regular eye break by looking into the horizon – this relieves the strain on the ciliary muscles involved in close vision.
  • Adjust lighting to reduce glare on your screen.
  • If you are aged over 40 and wear glasses, get a special prescription for computer use, otherwise you’ll need to tilt your head back.
  • Get a regular eye check – poor vision can contribute to neck and shoulder problems.

About Discover Health & Wellness – Westminster

Dr Cameron Hall Westminster ChiropractorDr. Cameron Hall of Discover Health & Wellness Westminster is located just off Wadsworth Blvd and West 92nd Avenue and serves the Westminster & Arvada communities.  Discover Health & Wellness offers patients a natural and holistic approach to health care and musculoskeletal complaints.  Services at Discover Health & Wellness include Chiropractic care, biomechanical and gait analysis, custom orthotics, sports rehab, Spinal Corrective Care, neuromuscular reeducation programs, and full spine alignments. We look at the whole body from the ground up. You can’t just focus on symptoms. The body is one functioning unit and each muscle can affect the next. That’s why at DHW we look at the system as a whole. Your low back pain may not actually be being caused by the low back, and most times it isn’t! That is why it’s best to have these issues looked at by our professionals that focus on these types of complaints.

Visit for more information on hours, services and location.

Discover Health & Wellness, Westminster
7535 W 92nd Ave, #600
Westminster, CO 80021
(303) 425-9557